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Spirit Rover Reaches Safety 147

dylanduck writes "Good news for rover fans - Spirit is safe for the winter. It had been heading for a north-tilting spot to make sure its solar panels got enough sunlight during the imminent winter to survive, when a sand trap appeared. But, despite its busted wheel, it scooted round and is now sitting pretty. From the article: 'We've got a safe rover,' says principal investigator Steve Squyres. 'That's huge news for us.'"
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Spirit Rover Reaches Safety

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  • Tough decisions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @05:29PM (#15101512) Homepage Journal
    The science team has had to make some tough decisions about which observations to make and which to cut short as the rover hustled across the plains towards a northerly tilting slope. Squyres says Spirit had to leave the circular target dubbed Home Plate earlier than the science team would have liked. But he now says the outcrop at Low Ridge Haven "might be made of the same stuff".

    Yes, its made of rock.

    Now wheres the damn aliens we were promised.

    I know, I know - its really a good thing.
    If it lasts the winter and moves on, dragging a broken wheel around may end up being a blessing in disguise, you never know what it might uncover.
  • Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @05:29PM (#15101517) Homepage Journal
    I really can not believe that the rovers are still running at all.
    NASA did a bang up job on these. Build more and recover the economies of scale!
  • by dakirw ( 831754 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @05:50PM (#15101650)
    Another good example of NASA's success in the unmanned exploration program, which contrasts nicely with the current issues with the Space Shuttle program and its potential successors. Wonder if any of the administrators in charge of the space probe programs can help implement changes in the manned space program.
  • Well now, (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LordoftheLemmings ( 773163 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @05:55PM (#15101678)
    Once again we see the advantages of an unmanned space program over our manned one. Now I am really for manned exploration of space, I'm just against nasa doing it. They have way more success on their unmanned programs (not to mention more bang for your buck). Look at voyager look at the mars rovers look at their new mission to pluto. I wish the nasa administration would see that they need to stop taking money from our unmanned programs to waste on our shuttle and shuttle derived programs.
  • Re:Well now, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by east coast ( 590680 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @06:01PM (#15101724)
    Once again we see the advantages of an unmanned space program over our manned one.

    I'm sorry but I don't see it. Care to elaborate on this point?

    While I do think the rovers are a great success I can't help but think that if we would make the proper moves to getting people to the moon we could make space exploration cheaper. Also consider that it's taken the rovers over a year to do what a manned exploration could have completed in a week.

    Aside from the durability of the crafts there is little to be amazed by here.
  • Re:Well now, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by masklinn ( 823351 ) <slashdot DOT org AT masklinn DOT net> on Monday April 10, 2006 @06:16PM (#15101797)

    They have way more success on their unmanned programs

    Not really, space is not your local highway and a dozen dead astronauts over twice as many years is not that high of a price. They're aware of the risks involved (as any pilot is), the NASA is aware of them too, only the public ever cries bloody murder, but that's because the public is idiotic.

    Many more lives will be lost during the conquest of space, it's part of the game, and the number of lives taken by the whole space conquest is still lower than the daily death toll of car accidents across the US.

  • Re:Well now, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScottLindner ( 954299 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @06:27PM (#15101853)
    "and the number of lives taken by the whole space conquest is still lower than the daily death toll of car accidents across the US."

    No doubt.

    Another point about manned and unmanned. The unmanned is great for simple things like this. It can go on and on doing very simple tasks and won't get tired of doing it. The manned flights are for sophisticated situations, but there's another less obvious point. PUshing to get people out there, will develop new technologies in life support that can be used for many other industries both in space, and here at home. Even if we develop great technologies to live in a colony on the moon, or on Mars, we can use those same technologies to extend our stay here on this planet. Since we're doing a good job of burning this one up that cannot support the numbers of people we have.

    I know you are not protesting the manned space flight. I just wanted to comment that there are many great reasons for manned space flight that are less obvious than the per mission benefits of the manned flight itself. It would be very unwise to try to send a man to another galaxy on the first shot, if we never figured out how to do it locally first.

  • 1000 Years (Score:2, Insightful)

    by darthservo ( 942083 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @06:42PM (#15101975)
    It had been heading for a north-tilting spot to make sure its solar panels got enough sunlight during the imminent winter to survive, when a sand trap appeared.

    Good thing it got around the "sand trap", otherwise it would have found a new definition of pain and suffering as it was slowly digested over a thousand years.

  • by jouvart ( 915737 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @07:12PM (#15102172)
    We've already had plenty of "lame" tags on the stupid articles. It's time we started tagging stuff "awesome". If anything, the rovers most definitely deserve it for their progress.
  • Re:Well now, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Viking Coder ( 102287 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @09:21PM (#15102855)
    I don't see any problem with the Apollo missions. Those were NASA and manned.

    Apollo 1 - Virgil Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee.

    NASA gets burned hard when they lose a probe...

    NASA gets burned worse when they lose astronauts.

    It's completely impossible for a human to make it to another solar system within my lifetime - but using microwave-based solar sails, it's possible to send a camera through a nearby solar system and get pictures back, in that timeframe.

    I'm not voting against manned missions - I'm just voting much more strongly for the unmanned ones to continue and accelerate.
  • by SockPuppet_9_5 ( 645235 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:33AM (#15103674) Journal

    Heck, MSL still states that solar power is under consideration.

    I'm surprised to hear that solar power is being considered for the next generation of Mars Rovers. That alone would rule out examining any feature with significant relief, like canyons and polar regions. Both Spirit and Opportunity got aid in cleaning off their solar panels from Martian wind gusts.

    Would any engineer want to sign off on a design that requires sporadic Martian wind in order to keep power levels high? Without solar panel cleaning, the life expectancy of the mission would be short.

    The radioisotope thermoelectric generators [] have just too many benefits, including the ability to keep the rover electronics warm.

    The only real reason I can see to continue to use solar power on Martian rovers is politics.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:40AM (#15104026)
    the concept of space mining, colonization, etc etc
    Well yes, they are well and truly in the exploration stage instead - which robots are very good at. The much cheaper robots can look around and the best they find is what's worth sending people on a three+ year round trip that takes many years to plan to take a closer look at. Efforts are being made towards colonisation technology - like the hydroponics facility at the south pole designed to be similar to what you would use on the moon.

    The disparaging comment above was really about the one or the other attitude in some sections of government. Robot exploration will help the chances of success of manned exploration in the future without taking away much of the budget. Identifying what we don't have to get out of the gravity well to build things elsewhere will mean that other things can be moved instead - which is why water is high on the list.

  • See what now? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @04:50AM (#15104310)
    Once again we see the advantages of an unmanned space program over our manned one.

    Were you referring to a craft with a broken wheel that would take about ten seconds for a human to replace if there were one close at hand?

    Or the fact that the entire life of both rovers has done about as much science as a human could do in a day, if they took a long lunch?

    It's like if you had built a scooter that carried you to the end of your driveway, then proclaimed that no-one would ever need an aeroplane. The two things are not even on the same level.

We don't know who it was that discovered water, but we're pretty sure that it wasn't a fish. -- Marshall McLuhan